Mothers testify at fitness test inquiry

2013-05-23 21:35
(Harry Gwala Stadium, The Witness)

(Harry Gwala Stadium, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Two mothers whose sons died after a fitness test in KwaZulu-Natal testified at a commission of inquiry in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.

Thandiwe Gumede, mother of Xolani, said her son died five days after participating in the fitness test.

He collapsed while running on 27 December and was admitted to Edendale Hospital.

"When I heard that Xolani had collapsed and regained consciousness, I believed God was going to save his life," Gumede said.

She was testifying before a commission set up by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize to probe the deaths of eight job applicants during a fitness test in Pietermaritzburg in December.

More than 34 000 people qualified to apply for 90 advertised trainee posts.

A total of 15 600 applicants attended the fitness test at Harry Gwala Stadium on 27 December, and a similar number on 28 December.

Thandiwe said when she spoke to her son on 28 December, he complained about his foot which was swollen with a mixture of water and blood.

On 1 January, Thandiwe called her son around 07:00. He told her he was in pain and hung up.

Thandiwe said after the phone call the thought that he might die crossed her mind, but she tried to be strong.

About two hours later, she received a call from the hospital informing her that her son had died.

According to a medical report from the hospital Gumede had a blister on his right foot and there was a problem with his kidneys.

Xolani had travelled from Manguzi, northern KwaZulu-Natal, to Pietermaritzburg to participate in the 4km run.

Xolani was temporarily employed by the SA Social Security Agency and was supporting his family.

"He was the person I had rested all my hopes on," Thandiwe said.

Earlier Sabathile Mhlanga, mother of Sibonakaliso Mhlanga, told the commission her son had been the family's "umbrella".

"As we sit here, we all have children and we know that children are not the same.

'Sibonakaliso was a powerful child. The little that he had, he shared with us. We did not suffer."

Mhlanga told the commission her son worked for Toyota. She said he took care of 15 people, including his two children. When he died, his girlfriend was three-months pregnant.

She said her hopes died with her son, who died a month after his father. He had not consumed alcohol before the test and exercised regularly, she said.

The inquiry continues.

Read more on:    zweli mkhize  |  pietermaritzburg

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